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Curb the ragging menace

Curb the ragging menace
Highlights

The dreaded practice of ragging in educational institutions is fast spreading its tentacles across the two Telugu States and elsewhere in the country. Increasing number of young minds is extinguished, turning it into an educational epidemic that needs urgent cure.

The dreaded practice of ragging in educational institutions is fast spreading its tentacles across the two Telugu States and elsewhere in the country. Increasing number of young minds is extinguished, turning it into an educational epidemic that needs urgent cure.

The Supreme Court in 2009 itself described ragging as an abuse of human rights. Punitive action alone does not suffice. Steps are needed to prevent the menace.

As defined by the Karnataka Education Act, ragging is causing, inducing, compelling or forcing a student, whether by way of a practical joke or otherwise, to do any act which detracts from human dignity or violates his or her person or exposes one to ridicule or forbear from doing any lawful act, by intimidating, wrongfully restraining, wrongfully confining, injuring him or by using criminal force to him or holding out to him any threat of such intimidation, wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, injury or the use of criminal force.

Ragging began as a process of freshers introducing themselves to seniors. But, of late, it took an ugly shape in the form of humiliation, criminal intimidation and even physical assault. Therefore, ragging in its present form cannot be condoned as a social acclimatisation process.

The managements of educational institutions should be made accountable to the incidents of ragging. Even the Supreme Court has observed that the responsibility to prevent ragging and punish those responsible lies with the college and hostel authorities.

The Raghavan Committee set up in November 2006 by the Ministry of Human Resources Development on the directive of Supreme Court recommended that the National Assessment and Accreditation Council take into account the prevalence of ragging while deciding on the ratings for educational institutions. This would go a long way in making the managements accountable.

The Raghavan Committee recommended restoration of campus democracy as an effective antidote to ragging. The Committee also emphasised on the need to provide opportunities for the students to express their varied talents at such as literary events, arts and cultural festivals, sports competitions etc. Such a constructive channelisation of student energies would divert them from indulging in ragging as an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Such extracurricular events would also ensure socialisation of freshers, which is purportedly the reason for ragging.

A wider participation in anti-ragging efforts is essential. The University Grants Commission (UGC) Committee of 1999 recommended representation of students in anti-ragging squads. Parents, teachers, seniors, freshers etc., should also be included in such anti-ragging groups. Ragging also reflects coercive domination of caste, class, gender, region, language and ethnic or racial hierarchies. Therefore, ragging should not be perceived as a law and order problem alone. It’s a social problem that requires wider interventions rather than only policing.

However, punitive action is also needed wherever ragging involves criminal acts. But, the actions should be immediate to act as deterrence. Perpetrators with privileged background often escape law, thereby giving a sort of legitimacy to this inhuman practice and fomenting essence of helplessness among the victims.

Narratives of ragging indicate that this phenomenon is a deep-rooted malaise, demanding academic, administrative, social, cultural, psychological, punitive and policy interventions.

Editor: Prof K Nageshwar
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